Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Keep on Running

I've been trying to figure out how to talk about A-Trak's Nike-commissioned Running Man:Nike+Original Run. My first instinct is to be skeptical, but the 45-minute mix LCD Soundsystem did for this series was the logical follow-up to Sound of Silver , and A-Trak's an interesting choice as well. But I don't run if I'm not chased by dogs or cops, so I'm not in a position to talk about it in relation to its designated function.

Since I tend to listen to extended mixes when writing, I'll think of the album as Typing Man and evaluate accordingly. The first section is distracting, which from a musical perspective is a good thing, particularly when it settles in "Say Woah." The funk is a little martial, but it's appropriately relentless, and the gradual mutation of the song stays interesting. I never notice when Running Man moves into the second section, but at some point I realize I'm in a futuristic James Brown moment, with a "Get up" command emerging from behind a fat, fuzzy synth bassline punctuated by icy keyboard chords, scratches and pings. I can work pretty well during this section, though I'm entertained when I pay attention. I imagine the first section would get a runner running, but here's when you'd go into the zone.

At some point, things slow down and are defined by a keyboard melody that sounds like the solo in a Richard Marx song. This passage I never notice and type through easily. I'd like to think it's because I'm in the zone, but I suspect the section really just isn't that interesting. For the final five or so minutes, the energy picks up notably for a techno passage that would probably rock a full dance floor though it might not inspire people to rush it. I assume this is designed to motivate the tiring runner to gut out the last few minutes. Me - my attention bounces back and forth between it and my work in a good way.

Short take - if I ran, I'd probably lose my juice during the Richard Marx segment, and I wish this mix made a stronger statement, but since it's designed to be background music, I'm not sure it's fair to complain about the sections that are only that.

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